Steven Wright is nearing his return from the 15-day disabled list, which is coming at the right time for the Boston Red Sox who are getting ready for a deep playoff run.
If there is one thing this 2016 Boston Red Sox team is known for, it is their ability to dominate offensively on any given day. Whether it is hitting Zack Greinke hard for nine runs in under two innings, leading MLB in runs scored by over 20 (669), or hitting .284 as a whole, this offense is deadly.
But, offense can only do so much for a team. The Boston Red Sox sit at 69-53, just half a game behind the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays. Boston is first in the Wild Card, two games ahead of another division rival, the Baltimore Orioles.
While Boston is one of the biggest threats offensively, to be a top contender come October, the team will need its pitching to come full circle.
Steven Wright, one of the team’s breakout pitchers in 2016, has been on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury and has not pitched since August 6. While the knuckleballer was expected to throw off the mound on Sunday in hope of being activated for Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay, manager John Farrell put original reports to rest.
Wright also denied he was ready for Tuesday’s start, according to Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato; it does seem the right-hander is nearing a return, however.
The 31 year-old Wright has been phenomenal in his 22 starts this season, posting a 13-5 record and a 3.01 ERA, both sixth among American League pitchers. His numbers have been much better since earning a full-time starting job, giving up fewer hits per nine (7.6) and striking out 7.5 batters per nine, the highest since his six game stint with Boston in 2014.
On a team that ranks 16th in total ERA (4.18), Wright has been one of the few bright spots in Boston’s starting rotation. The team’s ace, David Price, has struggled and while he has been better since the All-Star break, still boasts a 4.19 ERA. Drew Pomeranz has not been his normal San Diego-self since being acquired, posting a 4.59 ERA in six starts. Eduardo Rodriguez has been shaky as well all season, as his 5.11 ERA over 13 starts speaks volume about how weak the back-end of Boston’s rotation has been.
Besides Wright, there has been another bright spot. That being Rick Porcello, fresh off a four-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander has 17 wins and 3.22 ERA, boasting the best WAR among all Boston pitchers with 3.9 (Wright is second with 2.6). However, for Boston to compete in the playoffs, the team needs more than just Porcello.
That’s where Wright’s return becomes important. Price is still a top-of-the-line starter and can still throw a gem on any given day. While he is more inconsistent than years past, having two other reliable options like Porcello and Wright are critical to Boston’s success.
Wright will take over his old rotation spot, now held by Clay Buchholz, who was demoted to the bullpen earlier this season. In 28 games, 15 of which were starts, Buchholz’s ERA hovers at a whopping 5.42. He has been hit hard and having him replace the injured Wright is a huge blow to Boston’s rotation.
Injuries come and go, and Wright will return to full strength soon enough. He will have enough time to get back into his normal groove and be a source of relief in a shaky Boston rotation. Wright is returning at the right time for the Red Sox and will be a crucial piece to the team’s success come October.